Iran’s officials, facing a large deficit in the Government budget, are continuing to put out hugely-optimistic claims about oil sales amid comprehensive US sanctions.

Hamid Pourmohammadi, the deputy head of the Planning and Budget Organization, said on Thursday that the Government will sell up to one million barrels per day (bpd) in the Iranian calendar year starting on March 21.

Pourmohammadi reflected the assumptions in the budget of almost $39 billion for 2020-21, presented by President Hassan Rouhani to Parliament on Sunday. While claiming that only 7% of revenues will be from oil exports, the Government is basing numbers on increased sales.

See also Iran Daily, Dec 9: Rouhani Presents Increased Government Budget — But Where is the Money?

“The announcement for export of 1 million bpd of oil for the next year is a realistic figure,” Pourmohammadi insisted.

Analysts estimate that Iran’s official oil sales are now only 200,000 to 400,000 bpd, down from than 2.5 million in April 2018. They have said that up to 400,000 bpd may be moved on black markets.

The US imposed sanctions on Iran’s energy and financial sectors in November 2018, five months after withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal. The restrictions were tightened this spring with the end of sanctions waivers for Tehran’s largest customers such as China, India, Turkey, South Korea, and Japan.

In February, the European Union offered the Islamic Republic an economic link, known as INSTEX, for limited purchases of Iranian oil and other commodities and goods. But Iran rejected the mechanism because of “humiliating conditions” such as the EU’s criticism of Iranian missile development, Tehran’s activities in the Middle East, and its alleged involvement in bomb and assassination plots in Europe.

Pourhommadi said, without elucidation, that Iran can devise mechanisms to bypass the American sanctions:

It’s correct that the enemies have become familiar with previous methods of circumventing sanctions. But as soon as they would know of our new methods, we would have attained our goal.